First Look – Initial ICANN Estimates for Next Round Application Fees

One of the biggest unknowns for the next round of new gTLDs has been how much ICANN will charge for an application come quarter 2 2026. Discussion of the fee finally began in an open environment at the ICANN 80 meeting, having previously been held in closed meetings. At the first IRT session in Kigali, ICANN shared an indication of what the fee is likely to be with delegates in the meeting, as well as those joining the session online.

ICANN’s key tenant of establishing the application fee for the forthcoming round of the new gTLD program is that it should be based on cost recovery. In other words, the amount ICANN receives from application fees should cover the cost of running the New gTLD Program, including the costs incurred in building the infrastructure for it. Therefore, ICANN has estimated how much it thinks the Program will cost, based on a series of assumptions. The organization has therefore considered 4 scenarios: receiving 500 applications, 1000 applications, 1500, and 2000 applications. The estimated cost range across those 4 scenarios is $208,000 – $293,000 per application. The cost ranges account for more applications to cover the same costs, and variable costs depending on the number of applications.

However, ICANN pointed out there are still some next round policies being developed that will have a cost associated with them to implement, and so the price range may change accordingly. An example of this would be the framework to be used to mitigate any name collisions, a critical element of the expansion of the domain name space. Until such policies have been finalised ICANN will not know what their cost will be, so those amounts will need to be factored in later. As a result, the final application fee is likely to be a little higher than the $208,000-293,000 range presented so far.

ICANN intimated at ICANN 80 that because they do not know the number of applications they will receive they may set a fee towards the higher end of the range. This would be with a view to refund any excess back to applicants in line with the cost recovery principle.

For prospective new gTLD applicants this is important news. Although the exact application fee is still not decided, this provides a guide that should allow organizations to begin planning and budgeting for their application. The topic is likely to be one of the main talking points at ICANN 81, to be held in November in Istanbul.

The Com Laude Podcast (EP-9) - First Round Review Part 1

In part one of our First Round Review series we met with Vivek Goyal, COO & Co-founder at LdotR. He shared his experience with applying for four TLDs, the difficulties he and his team encountered, and what potential applicants should be aware of if they want their own brand TLD.

Listen now